1. Home

Gourd Decorating


2 of 10

How to Clean Hard-Shell Gourds
As this pic shows, gourd before cleaning has fungus. The fungus is removed in the cleaning process.

Not a pretty picture: a gourd prior to cleaning, covered with fungus spots.

David Beaulieu

If you have been growing a hard-shell gourd in your garden and feel it is about time to pick it, there are two steps that precede decorating it:

  1. Harvesting at the right time and drying the gourd out properly
  2. Cleaning the gourd after drying

For help with the first, consult how to make Halloween jack-o-lanterns if you haven't already done so. For the second, supplies are pretty basic:

  1. Pail with bleach and water
  2. Copper scrubbing pad

When your hard-shell gourd is through drying, it will be covered with black spots. This is fungus. But do not worry: the fungus has formed on what is considered the outer skin of the gourd. This outer skin is just a superficial layer and will be removed in the cleaning process. Fungus doesn't hurt the part of the hard-shell gourd that "counts," presuming proper drying has taken place. The fungus can stain the gourd surface below the outer skin, but if you are planning on painting your gourd, the paint will cover up these stains.

To clean a hard-shell gourd, fill a pail with a mixture of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Submerge the gourd in the pail. This is difficult to do, because gourds are buoyant; I accomplished the task by weighting my hard-shell gourd down with a heavy object. There's no set soaking time required: the longer the soak, the more the outer skin will loosen up.

I soaked mine overnight. The next morning, using a copper scrubbing pad, I scrubbed off the outer skin. The bleach in the water helps counteract any fungus stains that have penetrated beneath the outer skin.

Supplies for Decorating Gourds

Now that you've completed some of the dirty work, let's discuss the supplies for the fun part of the project: decorating the hard-shell gourd. I did most of my shopping at a crafts store. Here are the major supplies I used:

  • Dremel tool and attachments
  • Acrylic paint in gray, white, black and gold colors
  • Small paint brush
  • Face mask: this is a safety concern, as inhaling gourd dust is considered harmful!
  • Spanish moss in 2 colors: gray and brown
  • Plastic eyes
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • Felt
  • Polyurethane spray

Now that you're done cleaning the outside of the hard-shell gourd, it's time to open it up and clean out the inside. As I explain on Page 3, you're actually killing three birds with one stone in this step....

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.